Happy - and healthy! - Guts with Your Beeting Heart

Happy – and healthy! – Guts with Your Beeting Heart

I have heard the terms prebiotics and probiotics pretty regularly since my teen years, so I have always assumed that they, along with the gut microbiome they contribute to were – in a way – old news, as in, well understood by the medical community. In an effort to get a deeper understanding of the healthy gut & fermentation, I signed myself up for a class with Stacey Clinesmith of Your Beeting Heart. Stacey is a self proclaimed homesteader “lite” and avid fermentation fiend. If you met with her in person, she would happily admit to having a few science experiments (aka fermentation/bacteria growing projects) sitting on her own kitchen counter at a time.

As Stacey started her 2.5 hour class, she shared that the gut micro biome was discovered – and thus the official study and science of it began – in the 1990’s…..WHAT?!!!!! It turns out that the bacteria that live in our gut outnumber our human body cells 10:1 – an astonishing figure. Imbalances between “good” and “bad” bacteria have been linked in studies to a variety of diseases: from obesity to Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases. A good balance can contribute to anxiety reduction and mental health issues. Like so many discoveries made surrounding the topic of food and related systems, the answer to why older and more developed cultures have had a fermentation component within their diets for centuries are just now starting to be understood by science.

If you do get the chance to attend this class, expect to cover a variety of related topics, such as, but not limited to: what are probiotics and prebiotics, why both are necessary, how fermented foods heal, hands on time starting out both your own sauerkraut fermentation project and prebiotic bread, including necessary equipment and many tips for future success and invention, along with resources for local resources to explore in your effort in feeding yourself well. One bit of information I found very interesting (considering the future birth of a baby girl!) is that the oligosaccharides in mother’s milk which are not able to be broken down and used as energy for the newborn had really stumped scientists – until they discovered that it was being used to encourage appropriate growth of babies own healthy gut bacteria. How amazing is that!

Along with the Life-Changing Loaf of Bread, I chose to prepare the Cinnamon & Raisin Kraut recipe in class. I was intrigued by it because due to the inclusion of apple, cinnamon and raisin, its flavor is almost sweet and far less tangy than a traditional sauerkraut recipe. Just today – 24 days later – I chose to end the bacteria growth by storing it in the fridge. This particular kraut recipe would be great on a simply prepared white fish, in a grilled cheese sandwich or mixed into a green salad. I recently remade the bread, which ends up being a dense loaf, great toasted with a spread of your choice (nut butters, hummus, butter, etc.) or used as a base for an open faced sandwich.

Chopping cabbage for our kraut

Chopping cabbage for our kraut

Our individual mason jars of kraut

Our individual mason jars of kraut

Sauerkraut ready to ferment!

Bread ingredients on display

Bread ingredients on display

Bread ingredients getting all mixed up

Bread ingredients getting all mixed up

Loaf of bread: just needs some fermentation time

Loaf of bread: just needs some fermentation time

**I have not been compensated for this review – I had an interest in learning more about this topic & wrote this post in order to share my experience.

Cooking at Home

I usually love to cook at home.

We moved into our own house in August of 2015 and I feel more inspired in this kitchen than I have in most others. It might be the faux granite tops or the matching appliances. But it might also be because it is MINE! Actually, I really fell in love with it when we installed 2 centrally located floating shelves so all spices are at eye level and within arms reach. It is the simple things in life, and yes, this is one of them. Now… what to do with the cabinets of baking supplies. Yes, one major thing missing is a pantry and I’m still working out a solution. One thought is a completely open cabinet/shelving system so nothing is hiding! Thoughts?

Ok, back to cooking.

Last night I made a 4 course meal for us that I’ve had on “the tip of my tongue” for a few weeks. A classic Beef Short Rib stew which turned out to be a powerhouse of flavor while the meat practically fell off the bone. The bone had already been cut off, in order to cut the beef pieces smaller, but those are silly details that don’t really mean anything – point is, the beef was unbelievably tender! That was served with rosemary infused quick yeast rolls. These little guys packed a rich and decadent punch. Prior to that we had enjoyed a citrus roasted beet & endive appetizer. Cam doesn’t take to fungi all that well, so I topped his off with feta cheese while mine included sauteed crimini mushroom without the cheese. Love colorful and tasty appetizers that are quick to prepare and easy to enjoy. Combining grains and greens have been a thing of mine for a while, so a baby kale and farro salad was assembled, along with ras el hanout roasted sweet potato slices, a lemon honey vinaigrette and shaved feta cheese. Out of this world. The meal was filling, so no need to push it with dessert. Mixed citrus – grapefruit, cara cara and navel with a drizzle of vanilla and cardamom spiced syrup. A scoop of ice cream or freshly whipped cream would have taken this dish up a notch, but hey, will save that for next time.

A completely new culinary adventure has begun in my home kitchen this week: fermenting! Saurkraut & ginger with plans to incorporate some other dried spices and fresh roots to future experiments. The benefits to gut health are a real, tangible thing and the benefit to other aspects of health are being unveiled as I type. But hey, every culture has incorporated a fermented food as a part of their balanced cuisine, so by that logic alone, there must be good reason to include it in ours as well.

Here is a mix of fermented food examples across cultures:

  • Japan: Amazake, a traditional drink made from fermented rice. Usually, sweet and low-alcohol. Make your own amazake!
  • Korean: Kimchi is a spicy staple made with cabbage, radish, scallions and a combination of seasonings with red pepper, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, salted shrimp and sugar. Enjoy with everything!
  • Italian: Giardeniera is a condiment usually made of cauliflower, bell pepper, carrot, celery and gherkins in a white or red wine vinegar, herbs and spices. Eat as a simple appetizer with bread and butter or on a sandwich or in a salad.
  • India & Sri Lanka: Appam, a pancake made with fermented rice batter and coconut milk. Enjoy for breakfast with coconut cream or at dinner with a vegetable stew.
  • Iran: Doogh is an unsweetened yogurt-based drink that is usually carbonated and sometimes served with mint. Find this savory, tart drink in Middle Eastern grocery stores or at your closest Iranian restaurant!
  • Sweden: Filmjölk is another beverage made by a yogurt like product. What makes this different from traditional yogurt is the type of bacteria used. Siggi’s is a common grocery store brand that produces this – labeled as drinkable yogurt.
  • Indonesia: Tempeh is made of fermented and bound soybeans and is sold in cake form. Browse these delicious looking recipes and cook with tempeh!
  • Ethiopia: Injera, a national dish is not just a flat bread, but used as an eating utensil. Traditionally, it is made of teff flour and can be found in Ethiopian or East African restaurants. I’ve never made this at home but my chef friends tell me the fermenting process can be overwhelmingly aromatic…in a not so pleasant way…

Just last week I took a class on the topic of Good Gut Bacteria & Fermentation from my good friend at Your Beeting Heart and will share all about it in a future post!

Where are the photos you ask? Weeeeeell….. I recently had an incident with my phone and yeah, they are all gone. Here is one of my soon to be enjoyed creations from the class I took!

Fermenting Fun

Fermenting Fun